Halloween was brought to America by Irish and Scottish immigrants, combining the features of the Celtic and Christian holidays, and celebrated with feasting, divinations, and mischief making.
People had been carving gourds or pumpkins and using them as lanterns long before this practice was associated with Halloween. In 1850, for example, poet John Greenleaf Whittier mentioned the practice of his boyhood in "The Pumpkin": "When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!"
In late 18th century America, Halloween was a night for mischief and pranks. Boys would make "tick-tacks," cutting notches in the ends of a wooden spool and winding string around it. The spool would be placed right up against a window, with a nail serving as an axle. When the string was pulled, it made a loud and rapid "tick-tack" noise.
The name "Halloween" began as "All Hallows Eve." This became "All Hallow E'en," leading to "Hallowe'en," or Halloween. It was the evening before All Hallows Day, which was later called All Saints' Day. (In this case, "hallows" meant "saints.")
All Saints' Day, a feast for all martyrs and saints, was celebrated on November 1st for the first time during the 8th century, but customs varied regarding its observance. This date was officially established for all Catholic churches in 837 by Pope Gregory IV.
Taking place on November 2, All Souls' Day was a day of prayer for the dead. It was believed that the prayers of those still living could comfort dead souls, or elevate them from Purgatory. The observances began the previous evening with prayers and the ringing of church bells.
These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................
Friday, October 30, 2009
A little more trivia about the holiday before Halloween.